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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Dec 27, 2009 10:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

This is a great write-up. It was posted recently at the Lost Sailor's Pub.

I'd just like to add that this show includes what is probably the best (and longest) Here Comes Sunshine, preceded by this bit of stage banter:

Bob: We’re fortunate tonight to have with us tonight a recruiting station for the Venutian Red Cross. It’s the gentleman over here with the big red blinking eye. If you’d just like to wander on over there and sign up…

Jerry: The who?

Bob: The Venutian Red Cross.

Jerry: The _Venutian_ Red Cross. Is _that_ what that means.

I did a full review as part of my Ohio Project - http://lostsailorpub.forumup.it/viewtopic.php?t=1780&;mforum=lostsailorpub

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 27, 2009 1:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

That Sunshine merits an essay of its own! (Actually, it did get a writeup in that list of The Best Sunshines that was posted a while ago...)
http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=254358

Good work on your Ohio Project! A few years ago there was a poster here named acetboy who started doing reviews of all the Dead's Illinois shows.....but he only got through '69 before he quit the Forum and deleted all of his posts....

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2009-12-27 21:05:37

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Dec 27, 2009 3:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

Thanks man. I remember your HCS post. Great stuff. 12/6/73 is one of the most perfect performances of one of their most perfect songs, imho.

I'm actually in Cleveland for the holidays. We drove downtown today (did the tour of the Christmas Story house --- hahaha) and passed by a couple of old GD venues, including Public Hall (and Music Hall) and the old Allen Theater.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 27, 2009 5:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

From 1970--73, I saw all the Ohio shows as I was a student in the center of the state. The Cleveland show in reference was my last Dead show until 1980. The entire show is exceptional. I well recall the D.S.--thought it would never end and hoped it wouldn't. Like so many other shows from the way past, it was a delight to encounter it online some years ago.

I think it was these 72-73 jams that gave me access to musical realms that I had not previously accessed. After 1973, almost all of my time was spent listening to post Coltrane jazz. I'd have never gotten any of that without these Dead excursions.

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Poster: manwolf Date: Dec 27, 2009 6:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

The Dead in 72-74 were perfecting the last cog in the engine of a great amalgam of styles of music that were being polished to a fine, astral sheen. In 72, with Mickey's hiatus, Billy was able to focus entirely on his approach, and it is well known that Elvin Jones of 'Trane's epic quartet was a revelation to Billy. Dark Star (I've read) was based on a number of factors, both musical and aesthetic. Ornette Coleman and post Love Supreme era Coltrane, were like 'designated musical saints', and although DS got it's start in 67, it took seeing Miles with the Bitches Brew crew in 70 and the introduction of material with open ended structures (Playin, Eyes) for the jazz to lock in to where it was more than an influence, but where they were actually joining the cannon as serious rock musicians who were breaching the norm. Dark Star from 12.6.73 is a perfect introduction into what 'jazz' has come to be. The new forms that will dictate what music will sound like as I understand stand it really is exemplified in that cherished version. By the way, this was my first dark star at sixteen and I have not stopped studying the music to the best of my ability. Couldnt have dont it without this song.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 27, 2009 7:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

And not to forget Keith.... Having to play after Miles in April '70 may have been humbling, but their material didn't change that much for the rest of that year, and in '71 you could argue they were even heading away from a jazzy direction into tighter, more succinct jams.
Keith was primarily a jazz player, and I see him as the catalyst here. Checking out what happened to Dark Star between, say, October '71 and April 72, there's a big jump - the type of jam is the same as before Keith joined, but they're tackling it at a higher, more expansive level.
That's not to say they wouldn't have gone in this direction without him - they'd been jazz fans in '65 too, and it was always dormant in them - sometimes one possibility in their music takes the lead, sometimes another.... In this case it was the combination of talent, lots of practice, a driving ambition to keep the music fresh & changing, and having a jazz piano-player drop in their laps.... (Garcia had been playing with Saunders & Howard Wales as well, which certainly broadened his jazzy-guitar skills.)

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 27, 2009 6:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

Ah, one of the old-timers!
6-14-68? "I was there!" 2-13-70? "I was there!" 12-6-73? "I was there!"
I wonder if you & skydawg bumped into each other at the 4-3-70 Cincinnati show....

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Dec 27, 2009 8:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

I don't understand why when the Dead's jazz leanings are mentioned it is always in relation to that lame fusion crap Miles Davis put out.They had far more in common with the real innovators in the world of avant garde jazz such as Roland Kirk,Art Ensemble of Chicago,Sun Ra,etcetera.Miles and his band of studio guys couldn't improvise on the level of a serious Dark Star on their best day.I don't think they heard Miles and "saw the light",that is insulting to their intelligence as musicians,inferring they needed direction from someone else's music to create theirs,never mind the fact that what they were doing was far superior to what what it is supposedly influenced by.I have listened to alot of avant garde jazz and all kinds of rock and have never heard another band with rock instrumentation play true free jazz like the Dead did from 72' to 74'.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Dec 28, 2009 6:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 12-6-73 Dark Star

I'd have to disagree in part as well. I don't see the Dead's music as having much in common with Sun Ra or the AEC--maybe more Ra in the sense that his band played straight ahead and outside. The Art Ensemble were blazing new trails predicated as much on composition as improvisation (have you read Geroge Lewis' amazing book on the AACM?). In their later years, the AEC became a bit more formulaic and played more "tunes" than free form, but in the early years, they went on with ideas and cut loose from there. Perhaps that is why their mid to late 70s material seems to be the best (imho).

The fusion that defined jazz in the early 70s informed the Dead's music in terms of their desire to bring "jazz" feel into their own center just as the Miles led fusion revolution was doing just the opposite. Miles' musical hero? Jimi Hendrix.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Dec 28, 2009 2:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The Dead & Jazz

Them's fightin' words!
Personally I like the Dead more than Davis, but Lesh in particular has spoken about how awed they were about playing after him at those Fillmore '70 shows, and how much he admired that kind of music. (At the time, it would've been new to him - Bitches Brew was only released in April '70!)
[See P.S. at bottom.]
I don't know if the band really took much from Davis' fusion style at the time (Keith apparently did, a couple years later), but you can tell at the 4/12 and 4/15 shows, the jamming is especially inspired. As Kreutzmann put it, they were "totally embarrassed" following Miles - "we played really free, loose, but I couldn't get Miles out of my ears."

In interviews, the band referenced Coltrane a lot more as someone who influenced them even from the start in '65. They were very enthusiastic about the 'modal jamming' style that Davis & Coltrane initiated (basically, improvising in one chord or scale, rather than through a song's chord progressions) - Viola Lee & Midnight Hour were the first tunes where they tried this out.
Lesh said, "It was the simplest thing to do, because you didn't have to remember any chords." Weir agreed: "The first thing we learned was to rattle on in one chord change for a while....that was good for me, because I didn't know many chords."
In his book Lesh talks about how, as they got better, they used Viola Lee to all solo simultaneously, like jazz musicians, rather than just backing Garcia. "We electrified the song with a boogaloo beat and an intro lick borrowed from Lee Dorsey's 'Get Out oof My Life Woman', and we tried to take the music out further - first expanding on the groove, then on the tonality, and then both, finally pulling out all the stops in a giant accelerando, culminating in a whirlwind of dissonance.... I urged the other band members to listen closely to the music of John Coltrane, especially his classic quartet, in which the band would take fairly simple structures ('My Favorite Things', for example) and extend them far beyond their original length with fantastical variations, frequently based on only one chord."
You could hardly find a clearer example of the Dead being directly influenced by jazz techniques!

(Here's one introductory article about examples of modal jams in rock music -
http://dog-goneblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/modal-exploration_30.html
And from the same blog, a post about another "jazz" musician that Garcia closely listened to -
http://dog-goneblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/gypsy-king.html )

I posted a little bit about the Dead's jazz influences in this piece:
http://www.archive.org/iathreads/post-view.php?id=257577

Their influences were many & wide though, and the Dead created something totally distinct. Garcia was especially influenced by bluegrass & old-time stringbands, what he called "conversational music", the way the instruments related to each other. Lesh had the most avant-garde leanings in the group, and he was the happiest to go to the noisy side.... The band got into Indian music heavily after '67, which left a big imprint in their playing.
And so on....point is, you can rarely point to any single artist or piece of music and say, "That influenced the Dead's style!" For example, Garcia was a big Freddie King disciple when he was learning electric guitar, but by '69 there's hardly a trace - they keep transcending the things they learn from.
Also, as musicians, I think they listened differently than most of us - Garcia's quotes in my article, for instance, show that he was listening very specifically for what you might call the "voice" in the playing - one horn player's silences, or another's phrasing.
Here's Garcia talking about one tune that influenced the early Dead - the Junior Walker instrumental 'Cleo's Back': "There was something about the way the instruments entered into it in a kind of free-for-all way, and there were little holes and these neat details in it - we studied that motherfucker, we might even have played it for a while... It was the conversational approach, the way the band worked, that really influenced us."

P.S. - It's worth quoting Lesh on the shows with Miles Davis in April '70:
"As I listened, leaning over the amps with my jaw hanging agape, trying to comprehend the forces that Miles was unleashing onstage, I was thinking, 'What's the use? How can we possibly play after this? We should just go home and try to digest this unbelievable shit.' This was our first encounter with Miles' new direction. Bitches Brew had only just been released, but I know I hadn't yet heard any of it... In some ways, it was similar to what we were trying to do in our free jamming, but ever so much more dense with ideas, and seemingly controlled with an iron first, even at its most alarmingly intense moments. Of us all, only Jerry had the nerve to go back and meet Miles, with whom he struck up a warm conversation. Miles was surprised and delighted to know that we knew and loved his music."

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2009-12-28 10:34:24